View Full Version : Visibility of aircraft

07-14-2005, 04:01 AM
Hi all,

I still think of myself as a relative newcomer to the FB+AEP+PF world, having flown online only for a few months now.

It's great fun, but I do find it frustrating trying to maintain visual contact with other aircraft (friendly and otherwise) in the air (I fly on full and near-full switch servers - FA_FISC, Warclouds, Zekes vs Wildcats, etc).

I have experimented with different graphics settings and resolutions: from 1024 x 768 to 1600 x 1200 (my monitor resolution) all at 32 Bit.

I use an NVidia Geforce FX5700 256MB graphics card and fly with TrackIR Pro with vector expansion. Monitor is 19" Iiyama Vision Master 1451 CRT.

Any suggestions other than visit the opticians and 'Use the Force, Pads'? http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif


Through A Monitor Darkly

07-14-2005, 04:02 AM
Actually, I say 'maintain' visual contact - gaining visual contact in the first place would be a good start...!!!

07-14-2005, 07:36 AM
Until this feature is done better, using limited amounts of icons is always going to be the thing to do for me.

Human eyes have so much more visual acuity over a 17in or a 19in flat monitor.

07-14-2005, 08:30 AM
Heh, my first response was, 'WHAT visibility of aircraft?'

It simply astounds me that the vast majority of folks who claim to stand for realism don't recognize the fallacy of the so-called visual system (invisibilty is a more accurate description), and opt for servers (and maps) where you can't see anything unless you fly in the weeds and spot against the sky.

It really is possible to have good, realistic action with icons. But I've found that the hairshirt full-switch crowd won't even bother to investigate what you can do with them: they're just as dead set against it (and more important, the effect it has on game play) as they are against taking out spins and stalls and other physics features. But, when you look at it, icons create a more true to life type of action and allow more realistic application of tactics than the alternative.

07-14-2005, 08:39 AM
He he he. I've never considered myself a member of any kind of hair-shirt brigade, but I do admire an imaginative turn of phrase... LOL.

Still, to each his or her own, eh? And it is particularly rewarding when you do do well on a full-switch server (not that I'd know much about that...)

It's clear that some people are able to keep visuals on other aircraft though and I'm just wondering how they manage it. Is it a technical, ocular (or occult!) issue?



07-14-2005, 09:19 AM
Do you have track IR ?
Great help when trying to track your enemy.

Secondly: many drop resolution to, IIRC, 800 x 600 x 32

07-14-2005, 10:22 AM
To answer Padser's question:

I sometimes manage to "do OK" on a no-vis server. But it's what happens during the sortie that really infuriates me. Scenarios like this are not at all uncommon:

1) On one of my last Czech War missions, I was stooging around at 3km, when I suddenly spotted an aircraft (dot) curving in on my six. I took evasive action and suddenly he was gone. When I found him again, he was aimlessly wandering around looking for me. Obviously, he'd lost sight of me, while quickly closing the range. This would not happen in real life, unless I ducked into a cloud. He should have been able to at least maintain visual and plan or press his attack as I tried to evade. As it happened, we stooged around each other for a couple more circles until, finally, he "blundered" in front of me and I shot him down. Just my luck I ended up in back. No skill, no tactics, no planning to the kill. Very unsatisfying.

2) As happens so many times in hairshirt DF servers, you fly around until you finally see a dot (almost 100% of the time, it's against or in a cloud; you can't see a thing against lower terrain), and then while moving in closer, zooming in, whatever you try to do IFF, you lose a dot you're looking directly AT. Often, in a multi furball around a cloud, you dive in on the same friendly planes time and again, and even in full zoomed in view, at gun range, you can't tell if has roundels, + markings, or red stars. (Now, if the matchup is Bf109s and P-39s or P-51s, the silhouettes of the planes are so similar that it's not obvious whose side the plane is on; same thing if there are FW190s and P-47s involved). Given that even at close range you often can't see enough to fight, how are you ever supposed to see formations in time to plan a nice, out-of-the-sun, high side pass? Simple answer is: you often can't. You just dive in, hope you see something, and hope you have some room or time to maneuver in before another unseen dot ends up on your six. Often, you can orbit an area for five to 10 whole minutes, and barely see anything, then dive in at random, and once on the deck, see 8 to 10 specks milling about. WTF???? A determined search can't uncover a beehive like that from 2.5 - 3km??? That's b*llsh*t.

07-14-2005, 10:48 AM
Yeah, this is a problem.

OTOH, with icons it can be hard to ever disengage by getting lost. I like a system like ww2ol where the icons fade in based upon how long your vieew dwells in a given area.

I think another alternative would ne icon settings OPPOSITE what is usually seen. Have icons at longer ranges that disappear at very close ranges. At the range I shoot, I find icons unimmersive and distracting, but it is near impossible to BnZ with no icons, it's just too easy to lose the con.


07-14-2005, 12:01 PM
Now, see, this is one thing I don't get, but I hear it a lot: the idea of icons being distracting at shooting range.

I sure as heck don't notice the icon that much at d 0.15: then, I see a full, fairly detailed planeshape (although often the markings aren't completely clear, depending on angle-to-target). The red or blue letters and numbers sure don't distract me from getting lead, or centering the ball or pulling the trigger. When the icon comes in handy is at that all-important maneuver range of 1km - 5km where you should be able to see and track the dot, but can't, for a variety of reasons.

Also, I'm a proponent of not having any range indicators for enemy icons. There's where the "HUD" distraction comes into play. All you need is type, (e.g., P39) which will stay nearby to stop you from losing the con in plain sight, but isn't a long, billboard such as you can get with friendlies: handle, plane type, range, social security number http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif and all that).

As for "losing icons" in escape situations, it still happens with icons, but it has to be done right: if you can get under the enemy's belly long enough to get a few kms away and nap of earth, yeah, you can escape. But just to give up on a circle fight and slowly creep away from an enemy who's actively looking for you? Not gonna happen unless the enemy gets distracted (say, by your wingman or by reinforcements).

07-14-2005, 12:11 PM
Perhaps "distracting" was the wrong word. "Anti-immersive" might be better. I realize the handicaps of no icons, but I have always played Il-2 with them completely off, just because it looks so darn nice I hate to ruin it.

Also, in place of type/squadron/range, and whatever the icon possibilities actually are in Il-2, it would be very cool to see a single new icon mode: DOT.

Dot would be a colored DOT (a ".", or maybe even a "+") as the sole icon text. That would provide improved visibility over current dots, IFF ability by setting friendly/enemy ranges, but would not be a huge neon sign saying F4F-4 next to the contact. It could be seen against ground (unlike planes at many LODs), without being impossible to miss against ground.


07-14-2005, 02:16 PM
S! All,

One my problems flying "full switch" or pretty close, is IDing enemies, and then keeping them in one spot. One time in WC, while on comms I joined in a rather large(10-15 a/c)furball, targets everywhere. But, it was impossible to tell who was on which side(I was slightly outside of the icons range). Upon actually getting in range I found that the a/c I'd set myself up on was a friendly, and that happened 2 or 3 times til the furball was gone without me truly seeing an enemy.

Another problem is actually keeping the dots in view. I have to use the hat on my joystick, and that can cause problems, and right now can't really afford Tir http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif

I must say, however, icon types like those used in WC are very well done! On one occasion, I completely lost a spitfire I was chasing when it dove to tree top level. Its camo and the color of the icon blended perfectly with the ground. I had to track the oil he was leaking back til I found his plane. Followed him for ~5 minutes, snuck up and blew him to bits. Very enjoyable http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

S! Slater

07-14-2005, 02:22 PM
Well, without going into the realism debate, Padser has hit a basic point. Situational awareness is one of the most difficult things in this game and maybe it was in real life too. A tool like Track-IR (http://www.naturalpoint.com) helps greatly in the awareness. However, even if you have that tool, you must still look at small things like, what could that contact be in the distance. Are all of your friendly's within sight? Then it is an enemy. Are you not so sure? get closer and try to recognize the aircraft silhouette. You see tracers, who is shooting who? learn the basic tracer colors. If it is a friend who has been under attack, help him of you can. He will live to fly and maybe save your @ss on another ocassion. This works also whith AI buddies. When you are online with your squad, it very much helps if you are on voice comms so, people can shout to eachother where they are and in wich direction they travel on what altitude.

Conclusion: Track IR and voice comm with your squad mates would be super. It helps if you train yourself with some aicraft silhouettes and try to recognize some tracer colors. (they did that in real life also!)

07-14-2005, 02:30 PM
As with gaining visual contact, try to search your screen for pixels that are just a bit darker (against the sky) or lighter (against the ground) that look suspicious. Be warned, they can be samll pieces of dirt on your monitor. Look if they are moving or growing bigger. Track_IR helps here but, it isn't essential yet. Track IR becomes essential in a low speed furrball fight. You also don't need it much when you want plan a boom & zoom attack. I think it is better to have a bit lower resolution so, the engine has less pixels to blend the contacts in the background. Having a bigger monitor helps also. But, that might get expensive.

07-14-2005, 03:42 PM

What drivers are you using? I bet they are 7X.XX. If so go to 66.93's. The 7X.XX and 8X.XX drivers have issues with IL2. Planes will disappear and reappear about 400 yards away. You may also notice parts of the planes are missing such as cowlings and parts of the wing.


07-14-2005, 05:17 PM
I have the exact same problem. Use icons. IRL my vision is above average and I am an expert at aircraft and armored fighting vehicle recogition (This why when I was in the Cav they had me giving classes on identifying threat or friendly vehicles and aircraft), in part this comes from being a miniature wargamer. IRL I wouldn't have this problem, but on a computer screen the resolution isn't sufficient.
Switch icons on, this helps immensely.

07-14-2005, 05:30 PM
I've got a hunch that if specularity was implemented, including flashes and glints of sunlight off the skin and canopy, it'd be easier to see planes a long ways below you. That's what frequently gave away planes hiding in the weeds.

Something else that probably should get fixed is the single-pixel dots at long range. That's simply not an effective solution.

07-14-2005, 05:47 PM
putting landscape settings on perfect helps u see planes further away

07-15-2005, 04:47 AM
Thanks for the very useful advice, all.

Phew, people are a bit touchy in here aren't they? One whiff of a 'realism debate' and they're off... I don't know how much coffee you people are drinking, but I think you should halve it... http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

Anyway, thanks to Platypus for steering the thread back on topic!

I am experimenting with a lower resolution again (1024 x 768) on advice received from a squadmate and Warclouds flier and will look into using Perfect landscape settings to see if that helps, too. I suspect that this latter may result in an unacceptable performance hit, though. I get enough stutter when things get busy as it is..., even with 1GB RAM. Would you recommend increasing the amount of memory aassigned to AGP in the BIOS settings?

I'll also have a look at the driver issue as well, as the comment re aircraft disappearing at about 400 yards rings true with my own experience as well! Not simply when I take my eyes off the target for an instant, but actually while looking at it! I wonder if this is purely driver related, or a glitch related to LOD, etc.

I already use TrackIR, by the way, and find it both intuitive and invaluable.



07-15-2005, 05:19 AM
IMO dot visibility debates are irrelevant since the majority of IL2 community has selected the optio of going back to old dots when new,ugly dots appeared.Woth 3.01 dots the problem of visibility pretty much was solved but it`s a fact that majority of people flying il2 didn`t want this solution.

07-15-2005, 08:02 AM
Yeah, it's too bad, really. It looked really good with the dots we had for one patch in terms of it being posible to see cons lower than yourself.

Worst of course is the resolved planes in one of the LODs (as soon as they get some color, I think) where they virtually disappear.


07-15-2005, 11:34 AM
Tater--you need to follow these instructions:


You can change visibility distance, color, size, etc., for each side's icons, and it only takes 2 clicks of a button once you get it set up.

07-15-2005, 11:39 AM
Yes, but I want to change the TEXT of the icons. I want no plane type, no ID, and no range. I want a single character ONLY as an icon, the same character for ALL planes, just different colors per mp_dotrange.


07-15-2005, 11:55 AM
Well to start with good thread! I just noted a vast improvement in visual acquisition when upgrading from a 5700Ultra to a 6800GT using the 66.xx drivers.

I run a 21" CRT at 12 by 9. I do not think that 16 by 12 would work well in a 19 monitor. I mean it can look good but you will have a hard time acquiring a bogey. I have tried 16 by 12 on my 21" monitor and yes its pretty but not practical. Try that for a bit.

As far as the icons, I wished that would be pursued by the online wars but I am afraid its a dead horse. Full switch is routine and in VEF3 they were even discussing taking out the speed bar!

Best of luck!


07-15-2005, 11:57 AM
Tater: My point was that you can limit when the icons appear, tone down their visibility using black, etc. You got me on the single icon --I'd like it too, but we apparently aren't going to get it--so I try to lessen the impact of the neon icons. I have everything icon related mapped to my throttle or joystick, so I can flip them off and on with ease. I keep them off generally, flick on if I need a quick ID, then off again. Not 100% best solution, but pretty close under the system we have.

Hopefully it will be different in BOB, and maybe as they are developing that and occasionally giving out patches--who knew they were going to do another one after 4.01 until Oleg's announcement out of the other day--they could change the present system.